In the assisted-dying debate, where’s the compassion for doctors?

Edmonton Journal (Editorial)

What happens when those we trust most with human life are suddenly in charge of death?

Earlier this month, the B.C. Court of Appeal upheld a decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, ruling against a family who wanted their mother’s care home to stop spoon-feeding her.

It’s difficult to fault either party.

Margaret Bentley, 83, neither speaks nor recognizes her relatives, and her family is certain the former dementia-ward nurse, now in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease herself, would not want her life to continue in her current state.

A living will written by Bentley in 1991 outlined as much in no uncertain terms: “If at such a time the situation should arise that there is no reasonable expectation of my recovery from extreme physical or mental disability, I direct that I be allowed to die and not be kept alive by artificial means or ‘heroic measures.’ ”

But Bentley’s health-care workers refused to deliberately withhold food. They argued that by opening her lips to receive food when touched with a spoon, Bentley was consenting to being fed, and thus to being kept alive. The courts agreed. . . [Full text]

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